In a world of 12-step skincare routines and products with minute molecular differences, the Vogue Scandinavia team sets out to demystify moisturiser
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Humans have been craving soft and supple skin for centuries. Elementary forms of skincare go back as far as 10,000 years ago when humans began rubbing animal fat on themselves to keep warm. Throughout history – from using avocados and bee’s wax to the invention of Vaseline in 1872 – moisturiser has been the one product recommended to all no matter era, skin type, or region. Before there were anti-aging agents, toners, and chemical peels, all we really needed were moisturisers. But with today's cornucopia of creams, what kind of moisture do different skin types need?
A common misconception due to the interchangeable use of the words is that moisture and hydration are the same things. Although moisturisers and hydrators both address the importance of water retention to fight dryness and dehydration, premature signs of ageing, and environmental damage, the difference lies in how they go about achieving these results. With hydration, we refer to the water contents within our skin cells, which show up as plumpness if full and lacklustre if empty. On the other hand, moisturising is about trapping and sealing in hydration to build the skin’s protective barrier, prevent water loss, and keep the skin soft and smooth. As a result, people can have hydrated but dry skin or dehydrated but moisturised skin. Ideally, we want hydrated, bouncy cells that are trapped by topical moisture.
To achieve the perfect balance, there are three types of moisturising agents to keep in mind: The first attracts and retains water in the top layer of the skin, quenching thirsty cells – think hyaluronic acid. The second helps seal in the hydration providing a smooth and soft complexion and is usually a concoction of ceramides and oils. In contrast, the third provides a thicker protective barrier in the form of balmy body butters perfect for dry knees and elbows.
The different formulas fit different seasons and different skin types. With their warm and sweaty climate, the spring and summer months usually call for a lightweight gel or lotion (depending on skin type). On the other hand, dry, cold, and windy weather may require heavier creams containing ceramides, butters, or oils. For acne-prone skin, a light, oil-free moisturiser works wonders (usually in the form of a lotion), while dry skin calls for a water-retaining serum combined with a topical moisture trapping cream.
Another conundrum when it comes to face creams is the difference between day and night formulas. The moisturiser you apply in the morning is typically lightweight and equipped to protect your skin from the environmental aggressors you’ll face when you leave the house. Many contain antioxidants to minimise pollution-based free radicals and sunscreen to shield you from sun damage. On the other hand, night creams focus on repairing your skin while you sleep and typically contain ingredients like retinol to speed up cellular regeneration and counteract dark spots. These creams often have a rich, thick texture to replenish moisture levels, which naturally dip in the evening.
Considering the many options on the market, we want to help weed through the beauty jungle to find the right moisturiser for you. Below, we’ve collected our favourite lotions and potions for supple skin – no matter the type: